A 14-year-old boy is being held without bail on charges of murdering a beloved high school math teacher who was found dead in the woods near the school just after midnight, Essex County prosecutors said Wednesday.
Philip D. Chism was arraigned this afternoon in Salem District Court, reports the Boston Globe.
Judge Matthew Nestor approved funds for a mental competency evaluation and a probable cause hearing was scheduled for Nov. 22.
Police did not say how Colleen Ritzer, the 24-year-old teacher, died nor gave any reason why the suspect may have killed her.
Danvers public schools were closed down for the day as police investigated the killing, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.
"She was a very, very respected, loved teacher. At 24 years of age ... it's a terrible tragedy for the entire Danvers community," said Blodgett, adding "there is no reason to believe other suspects are involved."
The 14-year-old suspect was first connected to the murder on Tuesday when he was reported missing after he did not return home from school.
Police said the teen was found by Topsfield police at 12:30am walking north on Route 1 and taken into custody.
Ritzer was reported missing an hour earlier at 11:20pm after she didn't come home and wasn't answering her cell phone.
Police found blood in a second floor bathroom when they searched the school.
The chain of events first unfolded on Tuesday night when Danvers sent out a tweet saying they were looking for a missing 14-year-old named Philip Chism.
They tweeted again early Wednesday morning to say the teen had been found.
The Boston Globe describes Chism as a lanky 6-foot tall athlete on the school's soccer team.
Teammates told the newspaper that he failed to show up for the team practice at 4 p.m. and also missed a regular team dinner that evening.
According to the Boston Herald, students were notified early Wednesday morning that the school was closed due to "an ongoing investigation".
"It's just terrifying," 17-year-old Danvers High senior Kendall Meehan told the Herald. "Nothing like this ever happens in Danvers."
The suspect is expected to be arraigned in Salem District Court on Wednesday.
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